Monday, January 6, 2014

Light for the Darkness

Christ candle & the cross at Stafford United Methodist Church

When we are in darkness
Christ is our light.
When we are in despair,
Christ is our hope.
When we are grieving,
Christ is our comfort.
When we are anxious,
Christ is calm assurance.
For all people gathered in this place,
Christ is for us; let us offer our gifts and praise.
(Our call to worship from Epiphany Sunday, January 5, 2014)

This time of year is always a little sad to me. Just this past Friday, I unhooked the stockings from the mantle. I unplugged the multi-colored lights from the tree and undraped the lighted garland from the grandfather clock. I nestled the angel from the top of the tree in a shoebox, and Randy toted the packed-to-the-brim plastic tubs to the basement, where they will be stowed away for the next 11 months or so.
At church, the Advent wreath goes back in the storage room, and the greenery and twinkling white lights are pulled from the gold banisters and go back into a brown cardboard box.
Sunday was the last day for the white porcelain Nativity scene ...
 and the poinsettias.
Out of sight, out of mind, right?

But, no, it shouldn't be that way. While I pack away the bright lights and ornaments of the Christmas season, I shouldn't pack away the truth of Emmanuel: God With Us.
Just like Christmas shouldn't be about just one day, neither should Epiphany (though it is today,  January 6th, each year). The message is for everyone.

"Three Gentile star worshipers show up at the home of a good Jewish family. That is the last thing anyone would expect to happen," Pastor Ben told us in his sermon. "But it shows us that Christ's glory was not just for the Jewish nation but for all nations. ... They kneeled and paid him homage as a symbol of reverence, obedience, submission and an offering up of themselves.
"The journey continues to give us new opportunities to find the Christ Child," Pastor Ben told us yesterday. "The magi expected to find the King in a palace, but that's not where He was. He may be where we least expect Him. ... We find Him in kindness, in forgiveness, in generosity, in the gift of listening. God's glory is bold and different and life-changing and world-changing."

On Sunday, we had communion during the service. And I thought about how fitting that was, too. Because the story doesn't end with the Child. It doesn't end with the cross. Instead, it is Emmanuel: God With Us - yesterday, today and tomorrow. Before we come forward for communion, Pastor Ben says these words from St. Augustine: "Behold what you are; become what we receive." 

Today, we again receive the Light of the World.
Yes, it's time to pack away the Christmas decorations for another year. But I should keeping singing the song of Christmas all the way until Advent next year. And I should keep seeking and receiving the Light.

God of all glory, by the light of a star you led the wise to worship the Christ. By the light of faith lead me to your glory in heaven. Make me wise enough to wonder; make me wise enough to ask why; make me wise enough to search. Give me your wisdom. Give me your light. Give me your Christ, in whose name I pray. Amen.
 (Our offering prayer for January 5, 2014)

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  1. Beautifully written thoughts and message, Kim!

  2. Thank you for sharing God's love through your words and photographs. The church ceiling is something to behold.

    1. It truly is a beautiful sanctuary. Here's a little history: Stafford UMC was designed by Wichita architect Don B. Schuler. Parishioners broke ground in February 1925 for the current church building, the third to serve Methodists in Stafford. It was dedicated on May 22, 1927. The sanctuary is an imaginative interpretation of the Prairie School, deriving from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois.